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Conservatory on city council chopping block

City manager's office to present $2 million in possible savings from the 2020 budget, including killing the Eye on the Street program and ending residential sidewalk and road clearing on weekends.

THUNDER BAY – Closing the Centennial Botanical Conservatory is on a $2-million list of potential cuts city council will ponder as it attempts to cut spending from the 2020 budget.

The move would save $157,000 and include closing the exhibit space, turning down the heat, discontinuing plant maintenance and reducing staff hours.

Also on the list is the discontinuation of the Eye on the Street program, which would save $133,800 and the end to residential road and sidewalk plowing on weekends, which would cut another $190,000 from the budget. A further $70,000 could be cut by ending year-round maintenance of laneways in McKellar and Westfort wards, leaving residents to figure out ways to access the rear of their properties. 

Downtown sidewalk clearing could also be eliminated at a savings of $162,000, leaving the business improvement associations to address litter and waste-bin collection.

The list, which was broken down into low-, medium- and high-impact categories, would also cost 11 full-time equivalent positions if fully implemented.

The plan calls for the closure of 21 hectares of parkland, the closing of amusement rides at Chippewa Park and the closure of Jumbo Community Centre.

In the lower-impact category, the city believes it can save $190,000 annually by reorganizing its legal department to reduce external legal fees.

The plan could also see an end to a renewal of a five-year civic pride program, a reduction in training and overtime wages at Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, a combined $173,800 savings, along with an additional $75,000 in benefit reductions.

Also on the table is a reduction of grants to community youth and program culture and street/event development grant funding for a savings of $20,000.

Medium impact cuts could cut one full-time management position, lowering costs by an estimated $100,000.

Christmas decorations would also be removed from the south core, Westort and around city hall, saving about $9,300 a year and placing the responsibility and costs for doing so on the BIAs.

Also on the chopping block is rat education and the Muskeg Express and municipal funding for a summer student at the city archives and the corporate pin program honouring civic employees’ years of service.

The cuts do not include reductions at the Thunder Bay Public Library or the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. Thunder Bay Police Services Board offered no reductions. The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission did withdraw $36,000 requested for expansions.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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